So Kalmery

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Bendera Review

by Chris Nickson

Kalmery's brakka style, which was born in Egypt, but grew to popularity in the 1960s and ‘70s in Zaire, swings. And Kalmery approaches his music with a joy and jauntiness that's rare, pulling strands from all styles for African music, whether it's the dry guitar sound of Kenya, the rich polyrhythms of West Africa, the density of the northern deserts, or the joyful guitar and vocals that characterize so much South African music - he's a pan-African man, the continent's equivalent of Taj Mahal. There's a wonderful warmth to his voice and writing that brings to mind a less-bland James Taylor, particularly noticeable on "Africa Tamery" (and keep the CD going for the hidden track). "Find Me Free" tips its hat to reggae, which remains very popular in Africa, but there are also hints of jive, jit, soukous, and rumba laced through the disc. The surprise, perhaps, is Kalmery playing the didgeridoo, but it fits in quite naturally with all the other sounds. His songs and arrangements show a remarkable sophistication, and there's an irresistible verve about the whole album that makes Kalmery a talent well worth hearing on a debut that's assured and thoroughly individual.

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